José María Zufiaur: Living with the lockdown

My main concern over the last few months has been for the EU to deal with this crisis in a way that reflects its original project and its structure, which are based on certain values, a single market and a currency zone that includes most of its Member States.

I have also been hoping we would all finally realise that, as Aristotle pointed out, currency is fundamental to a collective sense of belonging.

I have spent many hours re-reading books on the EU’s failed response to the 2008 crisis, analysing articles and proposals on the urgent need to provide a different kind of response to this devastating crisis; a response that is faster and, above all, more coherent and which sets out a long-term vision.

I have been discussing these ideas with friends and with the leaders of the trade union of which I am a member. We have to take this opportunity to break with the dogma of radical austerity that has now held sway for decades, and establish a genuine link between fiscal policy and monetary policy.

I have also been writing about something I believe to be essential: to ensure that in political and economic terms, the EU does not turn up late for the move towards a federal union - or misses out on it altogether. This constitutes my own small contribution to influencing matters in this direction.

Of course, I, like everyone else, I suppose, have read and thought about what the situation might be like once this initial fight against the pandemic is over. In the worst-case scenario, ending the lockdown could lead to inward-looking identity politics and authoritarian approaches, to a type of looming war, with everyone pitted against each other in the public sphere, just as neo-liberalism had already advocated for individuals. Alternatively, the end of the pandemic could lead to a form of a globalisation based on a sort of governance that is more multilateral, human and more socially just.

The crisis itself is undeniably highlighting the costs of a lack of democratic planning — not only in the healthcare sector, but also, among others, in industry — and an eroded awareness of the common good, as the result of an ideology, almost a religion, such as the neo-liberal one that has undermined the pillars of the social state. This crisis has quite clearly shown that all public goods, from healthcare to education and infrastructure, constitute the true wealth of nations, and that these need to be saved and safeguarded.